Confusion and doubts about sour BHSI deal

First the good news: The landlord of Beauty Health and Science Innovations' Pico Rivera, Calif., plant has received $152,900 owed him from BHSI CEO Brian Sperber, city officials said late last week.Clovis City Attorney Dave Richards said that is "hopefully a positive sign" the city will receive a $1 million wire transfer from Sperber by his June 16 deadline.If the transfer occurs, the bad news, of course, is city taxpayers will still lose more than $1 million on its payment to entice Sperber to open a cosmetics plant here.The loss will be more if Sperber fails to pay the $1 million and an auction of BHSI assets has to be held."I think we don't have a choice," City Commissioner Randy Crowder said last month, when he and seven other commissioners agreed to the settlement terms.He is right.Whatever the outcome, city officials must make sure an economic disaster like this never happens again.In 2011, Sperber and associates convinced Clovis' Industrial Development Corp., to recommend handing over $1.8 million in return for a cosmetics manufacturing company that was supposed to produce up to 350 jobs.The reality today is local contractors were owed $180,000 when BHSI in August 2012 abandonedthe former Froz Fruit plant south of Clovis. No jobs were produced and BHSI failed to repay the "loan" from taxpayers. That has forced city officials to so far pay more than $100,000 in legal fees to try and recoup the loss it settled on early last month of a $1 million payback.What remains unclear still is how CIDC Director Chase Gentry and other city leaders will avoid this from recurring. They could start by answering these relevant questions asked by a cityresident at the city's May 2 commission meeting: * What kind of vetting process took place before Sperber received the money? * Who failed miserably in that task? Has the city changed policies to prevent a repeat of this travesty going forward? Also confusing and unanswered is how city officials said in December the city's debts were covered by about $5 million in BHSI assets, but today there is doubt those assets are worth even $1 million.Our community is listening closely for the answers Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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